Telegraph Key

Description (Brief)
Telegraph keys are electrical on-off switches used to send messages in Morse code. The message travels as a series of electrical pulses through a wire. The operator pushes the key’s lever down briefly to make a short signal, a dot, or holds the lever down for a moment to make a slightly longer signal, a dash. The sequence of dots and dashes represent letters and numbers. According to the Western Union catalog this key was used by baseball reporter Edson S. Brewster of New York to telegraph play-by-play accounts of games from 1899 to 1938.
date made
ca 1920
J. H. Bunnell & Co.
Physical Description
lead (overall material)
plastic (overall material)
brass (overall material)
cloth (overall material)
overall: 2 1/4 in x 4 1/4 in x 6 1/2 in; 5.715 cm x 10.795 cm x 16.51 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
from Western Union Corporation
See more items in
Work and Industry: Electricity
Telegraph Keys
Data Source
National Museum of American History


Add a comment about this object